Paul Prudhomme, Louisiana Legend, Dies at 75

By on Friday, October 9th, 2015

One of the country’s most genial and influential chefs, Paul Prudhomme, died yesterday after a short illness. He was 75.

Prudhomme, a Louisiana native and youngest of 13 children, grew up around Cajun cooking and often helped his mom in the kitchen. Southern ingredients, flavors, and the kick of French, Spanish and African spices, brought Prudhomme’s culinary talents to the attention of the world. Over the years he has owned several restaurants including K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen, written many cookbooks, and launched a line of his own blended spices in 1983.

Chicago Food & Wine Festival

By on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

After a long, cold winter, Chicago is ready to celebrate. Check out the city’s inaugural Food & Wine Festival August 28-30, 2015. Lots of premiere chefs (men and women!) are taking part. Tastings, classes, book signings, a twilight kick-off dinner and Saturday night party are all part of the offerings.

Groceryships Give Working Poor a Chance to Improve Diets

By on Monday, April 13th, 2015

Sam Polk (center), founder of Groceryships, left a lucrative trading career on Wall Street to launch a nonprofit that helps families eat better.

In the last few years public figures and reporters have publicized attempts to eat decently on the amount of money received from a typical SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allotment, which is about $4.30 per day. The stories vary widely in terms of lessons learned, strategies developed and unexpected hardships endured. Still, thriving or even surviving on food stamps is not a game to the nearly 46 million who depend on SNAP for their daily meals.

Sam Polk didn’t go this route. Instead the former Wall Street hedge fund trader entered the daunting world of public nutrition with a whole new premise — supplement the food budget with both cash and education. His two-year-old nonprofit, Groceryships, provides weekly $40 gift cards at Food 4 Less to struggling parents (mostly moms) for six months. Accompanying the cash are regular classes teaching nutrition, cooking and general healthy living concepts that are realistic and attainable to families who struggle to make ends meet.

The first group gathered in South L.A. every Wednesday night for six months. It was hard going at first–everyone felt awkward and a little suspicious about it all (free gift cards? what’s the catch?)–but by the third meeting as participant Helen Langley put it, “I took a breath and opened up. I don’t have a safe place … we made this a safe place.” At an emotional graduation, the women agreed that improving their families’ diets was a triumph beyond measure, attributable as much to the social connections formed as it was to the extra money.

Does Anyone Have Dinner Parties Anymore?

By on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Andrea Adelstein hopes to revive the lost art of the dinner party by reminding us to keep it simple.

To all appearances, the dinner party exists mainly within the pages of magazines. Yes, there are block parties, progressive parties, underground restaurants, dinner with six strangers, etc. But what about those incredibly elegant, utterly everyday affairs we vaguely recall our parents talking about?

Andrea Adelstein remembers. The Tenafly NJ native looks back to her childhood and sees the candlelit, laughter-filled evenings when her parents invited guests over for dinner. Through her company NY Lux Events, Adelstein attempts to recreate the relaxed glamour of intimate dinner parties for small groups and large throngs. Recently she was asked to consult on an event honoring Hillary Rodham Clinton; they do weddings, bat mitzvahs, life celebrations and all other special occasions where food is a must.

We asked Adelstein a few questions about why dinner parties have fallen out of favor, and perhaps any hope for a renaissance.

Toque: Why have you felt called to bring back the dinner party?

Adelstein: Over social media, I see more and more people sharing photos of their food, swapping recipes and blogging about their dining experiences. Everyone is excited about food. Yet people do this from a distance, over the Internet. I believe it is time to reconnect in a more intimate and personal way. Time to bring people back into our homes.

Earshot: New App Lures Hungry Diners Right Off the Streets

By on Thursday, October 17th, 2013

First there was Twitter. Then there was Yelp, and Foursquare. Then came Foodspotting. And Instagram. Social and check-in apps gave us entertainment, and power. We looked for interesting restaurants, showed off the awesome dish we just ate and left a scathing review when our service took too long.

Bub City uses Earshot to listen–not only to who is talking about them but who is nearby and ready for a beer and BBQ. (Photo courtesy Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises)

For many years, the dance of engagement has been skewed towards consumers rather than the dining establishments. Now with Earshot, the intersection between consumers, food and direct marketing just got more interesting. Or at least, more targeted. Customers “within earshot” of a restaurant are identified through any number of social media and geo-tagging channels in real time–the digital equivalent of (or perhaps superior to) outdoor “hosts” urging tourists to come in and order the special.

Earshot, in a nutshell, is a filtering technology that lets restaurants not only see exactly which people are “talking” about them or seeking food that tastes like theirs; it also lets restaurants send greetings and invitations to those people, through the social media channel they use most.

Cocktails at Home: The Daiquiri

By on Thursday, April 4th, 2013

You say DAK-ery, I say DYE-kery. However you pronounce it, daiquiri practically screams tropical venues with palmetto fans, thatched rooftops and a sapphire-blue sea. In the past 40 years, this once-unassuming daiquiri somehow morphed into a cliché umbrella drink, served slushy and sweet with chunks of pineapple in a piña colada glass.

Photo © Guzzle & Nosh/flickr

It was the date drink of choice at UCLA whenever couples had enough money to go off campus and eat out. Chart House, Gladstone’s, Monty’s Steakhouse, all of them served up a fancy daiquiri with all the trimmings.

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